The Eagle. Peacemaker. Tecumseh. Bremo. Wellington. Diomede. These were the six carriage and saddle horses, plus one mule, stabled here in 1821. As many as 30 riding and carriage horses, workhorses, and mules were stabled at various locations on the plantation. Visitors' horses were accommodated in stalls under the North Terrace of the main house. In 1793, a "stable" of linked log structures over 100 feet long was built at this site. The structure you see, however, is what remains of a larger L-shaped stable constructed by hired stonemasons in 1808. Both stables housed Jefferson's prized riding and carriage horses, the occasional mule or milk cow, tack, and fodder.
... to old age, the daily ride is among the most cheering of comforts... and so necessary is this daily revival to me, that I would wish to lose that and life together.
Thomas Jefferson, 1824
After the death of chief hostler and coachman Jupiter, Wormley Hughes assumed responsibility for the Mulberry Row stable around 1808. One of Jefferson's "most trusty servants," Hughes took over the care and feeding of the horses and upkeep of the saddles, harnesses, and carriages. Years later, Hughes, who also served as head gardener, could "distinctly remember, and described the points, height, color, pace, temper, etc., of every horse." He often drove Jefferson family members and carted plantation goods throughout central Virginia.
Making a Carriage
Jefferson designed a carriage and noted on March 21, 1814 that · Johnny Hem[m]ings begun the body of a Landau Jan. 12. and finished it this day." With assistance from two other enslaved men-Lewis, a joiner, and the blacksmith Joseph Fossett-Hemmings built this elaborate, four-wheeled carriage in "9 weeks + 5 days." It was usually drawn by four horses and controlled by two enslaved boys riding as postilions.
"The Daily Ride"
Jefferson remained an avid horseman throughout his life. He viewed his daily ride as physical exercise—the horse was "the most sovereign of all Doctors." His rides also allowed him to monitor plantation agriculture and industry; after 1809, he was "mostly on horseback, attending to my farms or other concerns." In his lifetime, Jefferson, who was "passionately fond of a good horse," bought, sold, and occasionally bred dozens of horses, many of them valued for their English bloodlines.